LIVE BLOG: Kudzai Shava: Empowering People with Disabilities: Education is the Key

Kudzai works for the Midland State university and Dir., for the Disability Students. The job is to integrate students into activities. Kudzai was sighted until 3 years until due to measles became blinded. In Africa, as in most other countries, any children suffering disability is a great handicap to the entire family. Kudzai was sent to school by his family as the demands of taking care of him were too great for the family. Many students train for public service because they are supported by charity. Because of this support Kudzai feels indebted to society and has dedicated his work to helping others.

Just being here in the United States is an honor. Kudzai and a sighted student did research and data collection and then came to the US as a scholar. Kudzai could see an opportunity to provide information for the blind about disease. Africans wondered that this must be because society wanted them to die.

Several people in the room have visited Zimbabwe. There are many networked connections in the room. It is a beautiful place.

Every country needs to have some sort of education. The vehicle to empowerment is education; this allows women and children to excel.

Zimbabwe population is 12,000,000
Disabled population is 1,200,000
Resourcves are lacking even to substantiate exact statistics
Limited opportunities and resources for empowering of the disabled: education, employment, support/sustenance

The main problem - even outside of HIV - is education. There is also the predjudice factor. Just like the US, the traditional methods of financing demand collateral. What kinds of collateral do the disabled have? This is itself, a prejudice.

Baseline research: Pilot Study

Findings: there are significant gaps in youth's knowledge about sexuality, HIV and AIDS/Usual methods of obtaining information: Hearsay, Overheard conversation, Experimentation; Preferred methods: Braille, Audio, Drama, Music, Poetry and Asking Questions/Eager to become peer educators

In the pilot study a lot of disturbing things were identified:
Young women were not familiar with what a condom feels like; they did not know what the difference is between HIV and AIDS (We are looking at some of the pictures of the children)

Peer Education Training
Blind people who can talk with peers who are trained about HIV and AIDS; 27 visually impaired studetns and 4 blind teachers
With a small grant from Hiram College blind students and 4 teachers were trained over 2 weeks with discussions, drama, music, poetry . 118 interviews were conducted of random selections. This is the contribution of culutral heritage to training. Certification was awarded to the interviewees who went on to train others.

Need for Empowerment and Support
Educated adults who are visually impaired: 110 school teachers; 10 social workers; 10 lawyers; 6 rehabilitation technicians
Alternative methods of sustenance: blind school drops outs gop to live in blind communities; begging on the street; emigration to neighboring countries to beg ( similar to the Mexican border dilemia
Now there is a problem with funding of students as funding for universities are cut.

Education in Zimbabwe
Literacy rate is 80 to 90%; over the past 5 years governmental support has been cut for universities;

Proposed Solution
Extend peer education project & HIV and AIDS education to all Zimbabwe schools where disabled live

Micro-Financing Revolving Fund
Income generating projects: to support academic schoalrships, to support practical skills training; develop business plans for income generating projects

Academic Scholarship Fund
High schools tudetns going into terit

Practical Skills Training
Form groups; Train group memebers in basic bookkeeping and financial administration; skils and knowledge in crafts market gardening, farming, other marketing projects. Start internet cafes.

It is not that people with disabilities cannot do it; it is that they need to be taught. By growing simple things, like mushrooms, you are growing healthy foods and making money to feed your family.

Cross-Cultural Networking Efforts
Funding, Educational exchange programs: professional, studetn internships; sharing ideas and capacity building through seminars and workshops. There is little money coming into Zimbabwe. This is the time to bring resources and gather groups to share knowledge and resources.

I-Open is a very appropriate name; we are not talking about seeing with the eye, but we're talking about opening the eye in you and opening the opportunities in Ohio, Kentucky, Oklahoma. In the research panel at the meeting this morning today the research panel began to look 10 years out - to look out and see the possibilities.

We should see opportunities where other people are blinded and they cannot see. Some people can see things that others cannot see. We as I-Open should try to promote and help each other to see new opporutnities. We, as I-Open, should set an example for others and work together to help see opportunities.

Question: I s there an opportunity in Zimbabwe to provide managment and managment training.
Yes! There are efforts going on which are ready for joint entrepreneurial ventures.

Julia Zellner visitied Zimbabwe in 1991. By American standards, it was bad.
A: Now it is 200,000 of exchange for every 1 American dollar. On the Black Market - a more realistic rate - is closer to 300,000 per $1. There are stampeeds at the supermarkets.

$100,000 dollar bill is the largest denomination. But this does not buy anything of substance. Groceries for a family of 4 are several million.

Marimba band performed by students earns money to feed the students. A new band is needed as the instruments are too old. The students are also dancing and could be choreographed.

What is done for people who have been diagnosed to have contracted the disease?
A: There are 300 organizations that address HIV and AIDS. But none of these address the blind. People with disabilities are left out of programs. That is why we are still at the awareness stage: how to be tested, what the disease is about and counseling.
Awarenss is still being developed; Kudzai's school addresses some of these needs.

Q: where and what other groups will host you to speak?
A: Cleveland Sight Center. Can you suggest any other places where Kudzai could speak? It is important to visit groups with similar interests to exchange learning and best practices.

Please contact Kudzai if you are interested in working or sharing information listed below:


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